VRS Fraud vs SSI Fraud

All right, let’s get this out of the way quick.

I have no idea what happened behind the scenes during the infamous VRS fraud scandal. All I know for sure is that 26 people, most of them deaf, were arrested. Were some of these people guiltier than others? Were they under the impression this was harmless red tape, or did they know exactly what they were doing?

Again, I don’t know. We’ll probably never know until all of this is sorted out in a court of law. No point in discussing the matter further.

But what I would like to point out is that if we’re so concerned about fraud, shouldn’t we be directing our attention to another potential source of deception, one that may be occuring on a much wider scale?

Yes, let’s talk about SSI.

Many deaf people are on SSI – Supplemental Security Income. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It will help you through hard times if you can’t find a job. It will help you through college. It will also stifle your potential if you get too comfortable with it.

SSI creates a paradox. There are many people who insist deafness isn’t a disability, yet at the same time there are deaf people have no qualms about collecting disability checks.

But that’s another argument for another time, and it’s an old argument at that.

Rather, I’d like to focus on fraud. And SSI is ripe for a fraud case or two. We’ve all heard the same old stories every now and then. Consider, for example, the following situations:

• A deaf college student belatedly learns that he’s eligible for SSI. He heads to the nearest SSI office and applies for benefits, only to discover his parents had been collecting the money all along without his knowledge.

• A deaf high school graduate, also unaware of SSI, eagerly applies for a job. Soon after he’s confronted by angry relatives who demand he remain unemployed, because they’re living off of his check.

• A deaf adult gets a decent job offer. He tries to negotiate fewer hours because “I don’t want to lose my SSI.”

• This one is pure hearsay but it floored me when I first heard about it in college: A deaf couple was able to live comfortably off of SSI because the size of their checks was commensurate with the size of their family. When one of their kids moved out, they went ahead and had another one to maintain their comfortable income.

Most of the above situations occurred during the 1990’s. It was a heated topic of debate in a Psychosocial Aspects of Deafness course I took in college. I’m sure that since then, the government is doing more to reduce such cases of SSI abuse.

Still, it would be naive to assume it’s not happening anymore. So if we’re watching VRS companies more carefully now, should we be doing the same with SSI?

Let me know what you think. I’m turning this topic over to you in the comments section below. And even though this is actually an old topic, keep in mind we have a lot of new people reading it. So throw in as many pros and cons as you can think of, and we look forward to reading what you have to say!





What Other Visitors Have Said

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